The Life of a Professional Football Player
What Does the Season Look Like?
Professional sports have an allure of glamor around them. They’re accessible only to the elite talent, and there is a lot of media attention that gets paid to these individual athletes as well. However, have you ever wondered what the life of these athletes is like during the actual season? While it may sometimes seem like it's all about partying and the highlight reel, there is actually an inordinate amount of work, preparation, blood, sweat, and tears that goes into staying physically and mentally prepared throughout the entire season. Especially at the professional level.
An NFL athlete spends most of their time during the season preparing their body, or their mind, for their upcoming match. There are few days off, and there’s even fewer distractions that they can afford. In order to be the best, these athletes have to commit to sinking their time, energy, and dedication into honing their craft. Let’s take a look at the schedule of an average NFL football player.
Early Morning Workouts and Training
There’s no such thing as a physically fit body that wasn’t worked for. No one is fit-forever without putting in some time and effort at the gym. Not to mention, being physically fit isn’t going to cut it for most professional football players. These athletes are expected to perform in the top 1% of their respective skills and duties. This takes physical, mental, and emotional preparation.
All of this begins with an early morning workout. There are a lot of reasons that most athletes, especially at the professional level, start their days with a workout. First and foremost, by waking up and getting in physical exercise right away, you promote blood flow throughout your body's muscles, and in the brain. This helps wake you up and get you energized for the day ahead.
After the early morning workout is over, it’s time to get some breakfast in. Professional athletes know and understand the importance of a balanced and nutritious diet. Especially when they’re trying to bulk up, and add muscle onto their frame. In bulking, and even in cutting phases, nutrition plays an absolutely critical role.
Film Review Sessions
After some breakfast, and maybe a quick shower just to freshen up, it’s time to hit the film room. This could mean any number of things, but typically, it’s going to be a review of the previous game, broken down play-by-play. Film-review is an essential part of mental preparation when it comes to American football. It’s during this phase that common mistakes can be identified, and then those mistakes can be ironed out on the practice field later in the day. Not only that, but by reviewing the film session, teams can understand what went right, as well as what went wrong. This helps athletes improve on both an individual basis as well as on a team-level.
Professional athletes will spend hours upon hours during the week watching film, not only of their own game, but of their opponents game too. This gives them insight into their opponents preferences in certain situations, and can help athletes strategize both offensively and defensively for upcoming matches.
Position Breakout Meetings
After getting some film-review in, most athletes will break out by skill position at this point. This is a good way for individual squads and team units to practice position-specific skills. For instance, running backs will group with running backs, wide receivers with receivers, and quarterbacks with quarterbacks.
During this time, these various groups will practice individualized drills that hone and train the specific skill sets that those positions require. Football is a game of inches, technique, and strategy. While brute physical force still plays a role in the game, it’s these finer details that turn great athletes into legendary ones.
Hitting the Field
After the break out sessions by position, it’s finally time for some actual scrimmage work. Scrimmages happen in all different varieties when it comes to professional football practice. For instance there are 1-on-1 drills, 3-on-3 drills, 7-on-7’s, and even full on 11-on-11’s.
During this portion of the practice, the first offense will typically go up against the 2nd team defense who is mimicking the defensive packages seen in tape for upcoming opponents. The first defense will go against the 2nd offense in a similar fashion.
All of this to prepare for various situations that may be seen in the live game.
Evaluating and Preparing
Professional NFL athletes spend most of their time during the season preparing both mentally and physically for upcoming matches and their future opponents. The mental game is a major aspect in the modern NFL, and some athletes simply can’t handle it. Tony Mandarich, for instance, faced some incredible struggles during his time in the NFL, and now helps inspire young athletes to strive for greatness without the use of steroids or other PEDs.